Nursing students on Spring Arbor University’s main campus have reason to celebrate: SAU’s traditional undergraduate bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program has accepted its first class, set to graduate in the Spring of 2020!
These students share a passion for caregiving and a desire to be the hands and feet of Christ in a hurting world. Their vocational journeys, however, are all their own.
This week, Jessica Khoury is finishing up her sophomore year at SAU. After spending her freshman year at another university, Khoury transferred to SAU to take part in the new traditional undergraduate nursing program. With a Spanish minor to complement her nursing major, Khoury has big hopes for the future — and a big heart for people around the world.
Khoury’s father, a pharmacist, introduced her to the idea of having a career in the health field, yet Khoury has never wanted to be a pharmacist herself. For Khoury, practicing medicine is about interacting with the sick and hurting. “I want to do something with people and actually be in the room with them,” she says.
While members of Khoury’s family have been in the hospital, Khoury has had opportunities to observe nurses’ work — an experience that has been foundational to her decision to become a nurse. She wants to use nursing to spread the message of the Gospel to patients and families, and she knows that studying nursing at SAU will equip her to do just that.
“The fact that [SAU is] preparing us to be Christian nurses is something that’s really special,” says Khoury, “Being able to use Jesus in nursing is kind of the whole point of what nursing is, because it’s a very biblically based career.”
Khoury has found that setting Christ as the perspective for her education has changed the way that she studies. “My drive to study has been increased so much,” she says. At her previous university, Khoury studied to get the grade, but quickly forgot the information. “Here, I’m studying and I want to learn it. I want to know what the body’s all about.” Khoury cites her friends, who study with her after class, and her professors, who make themselves resources to her and her classmates, as her academic support system.
Khoury is excited to see the nursing program grow. “People are working super hard behind the scenes to make it all come together,” she says. “We have a really great staff, and the nursing professors here are so intelligent. They have been doing this for years.”
Khoury’s dream is to use her BSN to work in South America as a nurse, helping to reform hospitalization and health care policies from within. During the summer of 2018, she’ll be studying in Guatemala, and observing hospitals while she’s there. Until then, Khoury will continue to study nursing at SAU. She’s looking forward to her first clinical opportunity, which will take place at a local hospital next spring: “I’m so excited! I can’t wait.”
After receiving his bachelor of science in biology with a focus on pre-med from SAU in 2015, Jonathan Matwiejczyk attended another college for one year before returning to SAU to earn his BSN. Matwiejczyk had initially wanted to be an ER doctor; now, he wants to be an ER nurse, like his mother.
Matwiejczyk was shadowing one of his mother’s coworkers when he realized that he wanted to become a nurse. He saw that the nurses were “there with patients, caring for them more than the doctors.” It was the relational element of nurses’ interactions with patients that really changed Matwiejczyk’s mind.
“I knew I wanted to be in the health field. I knew I wanted to be in the ER. But it was then that I realized that nursing was really what I felt was my calling,” says Matwiejczyk.
Why SAU’s nursing program? For Matwiejczyk, the answer was easy: “I really love being here — simple as that. I love the people. I love the community. I just love everything about Spring Arbor.”
After all, Matwiejczyk already knew what to expect from SAU: “I knew I was going to have a great relationship with my professors, I knew I was going to love the people I was around and I knew… I was going to be able to grow into my career, grow into my faith.”
In addition to attending school part-time, Matwiejczyk works full time doing construction, demolition and landscaping. He likes that the job allows him to be flexible with his hours. Later on in the nursing program, Matwiejczyk will switch to studying full-time.
Matwiejczyk loves the fast pace of the ER, but he doesn’t mind adopting a steady pace to get there. “In the grand design of things, it’s a marathon and not a sprint,” he says.
Balancing school and work has been stressful at times for Matwiejczyk. Despite this, he finds comfort in knowing that he is exactly where he should be right now.
“The last couple years, I was kind of in limbo between what I was going to be doing, where I was going to be at — it was extremely stressful. It had been weighing on me for a while: I didn’t know where I was going to be. That lack of feeling of placement was burdening me for a while. After I found out about the nursing program here, everything just seemed to start to fall into place. These last couple weeks have just been phenomenal, knowing that this [SAU] is where I’m going to be. It is a home.”
Spring Arbor University’s traditional undergraduate BSN program has made main campus home to nursing students like Jessica and Jonathan. To all of the students recently accepted into the new nursing program: congratulations, and good luck in the coming years!